The biggest time-wasters in commercial work in hotels

27 January 2022
The pandemic has increased the gap between the fast and adaptive and the slow and static hotel companies. The quick and adaptive started to innovate and sharpen their processes when the pandemic hit while the others just closed down and started to wait for a demand recovery. This time around, the larger companies became innovators while small and mid-sized companies did not have enough resources to make themselves more robust and better prepared for an upturn.
The key to future profitability and success is to increase productivity. Unfortunately, hospitality is a laggard compared to other industries. Here are three ways to eliminate time-wasters creating a huge positive financial impact.

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Let the guest do the work

One of the most common ways to increase productivity is to move the workload from the staff member to the customer and, at the same time, make the customer even more satisfied. Banks have proven this by creating internet banking where the customer does all the work. Before internet banking, the bank teller was the only person allowed to process transactions. Airlines have also successfully created mobile check-in, boarding cards, and everything else mobile. The customer does almost all the work that an airline employee had to do before. For example, buying groceries where the store is automated or the customer self-scans all products and handles payments by credit card. The mega-chains have started to push more work to the guest with mobile booking, check-in/check-out, ordering, etc., but many small properties have not yet started. Hotels need technology to make this happen.
 
The trick here is to provide something that the guest/customer appreciates and considers a service enhancement. Being in control, hassle-free, flexible, accessible at any time, etc., are significant service enhancements and a great starting point. Guests still want to meet a human being when they arrive at the hotel, so do not replace your staff members with robots.
 
There are other benefits besides saving on labor costs. The guest will get it right every single time. I never misspell my name, select the wrong stay dates, or enter the wrong credit card number. The valuable guest data will be accurate and much more helpful for the hotel to become a little more data-driven when making decisions.

Eliminate tedious manual work

The first action is to stop doing those meaningless things, such as producing a report that nobody reads or serving your boss with printed daily reports that the person can view on the screen or smartphone. Start listing all the jobs that are meaningless and stop doing them. The next step is to assess the most tedious manual processes and figure out how these could be automated or other ways of designing the procedures to minimize time. Every time you copy and paste something, you probably did a job that the hotel already should have automated. Modern systems can communicate with each other and automatically update information.
 
The significant benefits of automation are eliminating the substantial cost of manual work, speeding up processes (systems process faster than humans), and securing data quality. In addition, there are other benefits, such as enhancing job satisfaction, finding and hiring more qualified people, and using people for tasks where humans are superior to systems, such as interaction with people.

Clarify jobs and desired outcomes

Maybe the worst timewaster is the lack of direction. Your employees do not know what they are supposed to do, what outcomes you expect, how much and when in time. Leaders in hospitality tend to think that the job is easy, so they do not need to explain. Everyone understands marketing, sales, and revenue, primarily if the person has worked in another hotel in these functions. People in any role get frustrated when the boss does not set clear expectations and hold the employee responsible by following up on the progress.
 
Every hotel company needs a clear and concise job description for every role that states the employee's job should get done. Furthermore, the leader has to communicate the desired outcome. Finally, objectives and goals are essential to create a sense of urgency and measure progress.
 
With these simple actions, you as a leader have eliminated uncertainty, doubt, and a lot of time spent figuring out what to do and what the boss might expect of you. Instead, the team member can focus on getting the job done.

Impact

If a hotel implements processes in all three of the above areas, the financial impact will be huge. First, the cost savings from moving the job from employees to guests/customers are significant. A guesstimate would be another 5-10 percentage points in GOP. Eliminating manual work saves one or two employees, but the time freed up will increase revenue, impacting profitability. Finally, having a team working in the same direction and striving for the same goals will probably change the company's performance from mediocre to excellent.